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String Playtest Comparison: ALU Power Rough vs Kirschbaum Competition

About the play testerAbout the String

Tester: Radical Tourist of Talk Tennis message board

Playing Level: 3.5 / 4.0

Regular playing equipment: Pro Kennex 15G PSE, Leopard Plus Control 17

Game Style: mainly doubles and some singles, baseliner looking to come in, medium/fast stroke, topspin forehand, primarily slice backhand, flat and slice serves. Eastern grip off both sides.

Strings being tested: Luxilon ALU Rough, Kirschbaum Competition

Gauge: Luxilon ALU Rough: 16L, Kirschbaum Competition: 17

Racquet(s) string is in: Pro Kennex 15G PSE

Tension: 52 lbs.

Luxilon ALU Power Rough 16L String
A textured version of ALU Power designed to grip the ball for increased spin. Not quite as durable as ALU Power, but still a very durable string.
Kirschbaum Competition 17 (1.25) String
An advanced Polyester tennis string designed to offer increased control, comfort and playability. Good tension maintenance compared to traditional Polyester strings.


The Kirschbaum Competition was a one-piece string job. It exhibited average stretch with no notching during stringing. It was stiff, typical of Kirschbaum. You can cut yourself if you cut it to a sharp end.

The Luxilon ALU Rough was also a one-piece job. It showed little stretch. It seems to have a memory when pulling over and under, leave it for several minutes and then pull on it again, you can feel the woven curves still in it. It's also a slicker string than the Kirschbaum Competition.


The Kirschbaum Competition has decent power, hardly like a multifilament, and very similar to its Super Smash Honey string. It lost power noticeably over 6-8 sets. Again, no one will mistake it for multifilament.

The Luxilon ALU Rough had noticeably more power in its first hits than the Kirschbaum Competition and remained more powerful throughout the play test. It probably was the major discriminating factor for me if you're going to bang away from the baseline (and that's what these strings are about).


The Kirschbaum Competition has good control in my Pro Kennex 15G PSE. At 52 pounds, it remained as still as multifilament at 65 pounds. Not mushy at all.

I felt like the Luxilon ALU Rough was basically equal in control, both due to excellent spin, and again, little string movement.


Like its Honey polys, the Kirschbaum Competition has a dampened feel to it that I really liked.

The Luxilon ALU Rough was much more comfortable than my past experiences with Big Banger and the equal of the Kirschbaum Competition. But I'd never had the nerve to drop the tension to 52 pounds on polys before. Consider yourself warned.


The Kirschbaum Competition had a high level of spin, which I credit to its zero string movement. Despite bad footwork to get into position the spin pulled down topspin forehands and slice backhands that should have floated or sat up.

I had the same experience with the Luxilon ALU Rough, nice topspin that crashed down on the baseline just in time in several cases where I was half a step behind the ball. Both showed great spin in dipping topspin forehands at the feet of charging opponents.


The Kirschbaum Competition didn't approach multifilament touch, but it still communicated somewhat. This comment might fit anywhere, but this is a fine place to note that the Kirschbaum Competition string bed at 52 pounds felt pretty much like multifilament at 65 pounds. Especially at temperatures below 75 or so, it would be safe in my opinion to drop it to 50 pounds with no adverse affect.

I'd say the Luxilon ALU Rough wasn't a subtle string either. It gave excellent feel for poly. In 47-53 degrees in evening play it retained enough feel to flip up 2-3 quick lobs over aggressive opponents at the net and lob back 3-4 lunging returns of serve that landed on or near the baseline so I was happy.

String Movement

The Kirschbaum Competition was crazy. After 3 matches (3 hard warm-ups + 6 sets), the Kirsch had not moved at all - AT ALL. At 52 pounds. Pretty amazing, and I'd credit that for the excellent spin.

After an extended 30 minutes of serving and warming up and a 4 and 2 match, the Luxilon ALU Rough appeared to have moved just a smidge. After a 2 1/2 hour three-setter it hadn't changed appreciably. Over the course of two more three setters, it was showing a little movement, and I straightened it 3-4 times in my last match with it.

Tension Maintenance

I'd rate the Kirschbaum Competition pretty high. It didn't move or feel greatly different after four sets.

The Luxilon ALU Rough felt by in large the same, perhaps losing tension noticeably after about 6-8 sets.


I had about 10 sets on the Kirschbaum Competition. It seemed indestructible, despite heavy topspin and slice. I expect it to go unplayably dead and have to be cut out before it breaks.

The Luxilon ALU Rough had 12-15 sets on it and showed no signs of notching, despite its slightly greater string movement.


The Kirschbaum Competition was played in 60-70 degrees for the most part.

The Luxilon ALU Rough was also played in matches ranging from 65 and sunny to as low as 40, dark and windy. There was no doubt that both strings lost some very useful pop in going from 65 to 40. However, I was impressed that the Luxilon ALU Rough retained a lot of feel to hold the ball on the strings while hitting down the alleys or steer short hop volleys into the open court.

Court Surface: Clay and fairly damp.


Luxilon ALU Rough 79
Kirschbaum Competition 78
Kirschbaum Competition 70
Luxilon ALU Rough 70
Luxilon ALU Rough 56
Kirschbaum Competition 50
Overall Playability
Luxilon ALU Rough 80
Kirschbaum Competition 75
Luxilon ALU Rough 70
Kirschbaum Competition 60
Kirschbaum Competition 80
Luxilon ALU Rough 77
String Movement
Kirschbaum Competition 100
Luxilon ALU Rough 90
Tension Maintenance
Kirschbaum Competition 95
Luxilon ALU Rough 80
Overall Summary: I preferred the Luxilon ALU Rough based on its greater power from beginning to end of the play test, as well as very similar comfort and control. For those who prefer multifilaments, I would say 52 pounds is close to the top end of both strings, and 50 pounds would not be a mistake, particularly because both hold tension so well.

Playtest date: December, 2006.
All content copyright 2007 Tennis Warehouse.

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